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Boston Catholic priest apologizes for ‘pro-choice’ statements

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers a speech from Wilmington, Del., Aug. 20, 2020, during the virtual Democratic National Convention. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

A Boston priest has apologized for a social media post in which he described himself as “pro-choice” and endorsed former vice president Joe Biden. The post, made Sunday, received widespread media attention and prompted a statement from Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

“Please accept my apology for the confusion and upset caused by the Facebook post concerning the presidential election and expectant women carrying their children to birth,” wrote Monsignor Paul Garrity, pastor of the Lexington Catholic Community parish, on Facebook the evening of August 27.

In his original Aug. 23 Facebook post titled “I AM PRO-LIFE AND SUPPORT JOE BIDEN,” Msgr. Garrity wrote: “I am pro-life and I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I will vote for Joe Biden for President because I believe that Joe Biden is pro-life like me.”

Garrity added that he believes “any woman who becomes pregnant should have the right to choose to give birth to her baby.”

“I am pro-life and I believe that every woman who becomes pregnant deserves to have the freedom to choose life. This is what I believe Joe Biden believes and is one of the many reasons that I will vote for him in November,” said Garrity Sunday. The priest urged “Catholics and others” of similar viewpoints to vote for Biden as well.

In a subsequent statement to CNA on Tuesday, Garrity said that that he has considered himself “Pro-Life” since he was ordained a priest in 1973, despite his support for legal protection for abortion.

“I believe that it is a tragedy when a woman of any age decides to end her pregnancy prematurely,” said Garrity in an email to CNA Aug. 25. The priest added that in his view, Catholics “are also told that we should not be ‘single issue’ voters” and that the Church is “neutral” on the issue of voting.

On Thursday, Garrity clarified that he is “totally against legalized abortion.”

“I am committed to upholding Church teaching regarding the sanctity of life from the moment of conception until natural death,” he said in his most recent Facebook post. Garrity added that he was “not prepared for the uncharitable responses” to his earlier post, and that “the last thing that I would ever want to do is hurt anyone with my words.”

Garrity’s original statements sparked a series of responses from archdiocesan officials, both publicly and privately.

On Thursday, Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, issued a statement saying that Catholics have “the right to expect the priests of the Archdiocese and those entrusted with handing on the faith to be clear and unequivocal on the Church’s teaching concerning respect and protection for life from the first moment of conception to natural death.”

“This teaching is of the highest priority for the Church,” he added.

That public statement followed an Aug. 25 letter from Francis J. O’Connor, general counsel of the Archdiocese of Boston, to priests and archdiocesan employees warning them against politically-charged social media posts.

The memo focused on the tax implications of political endorsements. O’Connor encouraged clergy to “refrain from expressing those opinions which will draw negative attention regardless of ideology as well as possible unwelcome attention from the IRS,” adding that  “the tax exemption issue is an increasing priority with the IRS.”

Federal law provides that 501(c)(3) organizations cannot “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

“One’s presence on Social Media, even beyond an organization’s page or website, can be associated with the organization,” wrote O’Connor.

“Blurring the lines between an individual’s personal thoughts and opinions and the appearance of a connection to the Church or a Church related entity to which those personal thoughts or opinions can be attributed to presents unacceptable risk and jeopardy to the Church’s tax-exempt status.”


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37 Comments

  1. He changed his position overnight. Did the Angel Gabriel appear to him? The Cardinal must think everyone is stupid. Garrity issued that statement to save his job. The Cardinal removed Fr, Dan Moloney for expressing his opinion, and Garrity spews heresy and is protected by the Cardinal. Everyone who is outraged by Garrity’s pro choice views should email the Cardinal and tell him they will not give to his yearly Appeal.

    • Great comments, thank you.
      Could a priest cause more harm and scandal than what he has done? He has actually officially said that babies in the wombs can be murdered.
      What a pathetic ” excuse”!
      How dies he expect to be regarded with any respect and credibility after demonstrating such unspeakable contempt and disregard for the unborn.

    • That’s akin to saying that a priest who molested a child in the 1950s did so, in some way, because of the Tridentine Mass and “Catholic culture”.

      • Were many clerics publicly defying Church teaching and authority with impunity before the council? And you are correct that the abuses before the council were directly related to the catholic culture at the time just as the destruction of that culture created new and arguably worse problems in the Church.

      • No. It isn’t. Because the Novus Ordo is a vandalized version of the Roman Rite, and vandalizes the faith of those steeped in it.

      • “His Eminence” Cardinal O’Malley fires Fr. Moloney for giving good counsel, and yet he retains “Rev.” Garrity who promotes the mortal sin of abortion.

        Q: Why?
        A: The money, according to “His Eminence.”

        Yes, our faith and morals are “a very high priority,” second only to “our money.”

        This is “the mind of McCarrick.”

      • Post-conciliar perspectives undoubtedly provide fuel for poor thought and poor behavior. All of us with a pre-conciliar experience know quite well the hazard of scrupulosity and the fear of mortal sin which was not uncommon before the end of the mid-century council. While it was a psychological cross [and no doubt one of the unspoken-of fueling factors for the council — thus its “pastoral” thrust] it did serve the purpose of keeping the less spiritually developed of us on track. One need only avail themselves of the spiritual literature of the period between Trent and the last council to get the flavor of our consciousness then. Undoubtedly the rise of Theresian spirituality was a “vent” arising in the post-Tridentine period [she herself was influenced by Francis de Sales] taking the pressure off. She was indeed a revolutionary character. But Saint Therese was immersed in a deep personal love of Jesus Christ — that love contextualizes everything. The Christian life lived in the love of Jesus Christ — His love for us and ours for Him generated by His love — neutralizes scrupulosity — transforming faithful conformity to the Decalogue into the way of freedom. When Christ has been sidelined, as He has been dramatically in post-conciliar low-Christology, the joyful freedom found in taking up one’s cross no longer is available and there is required a broad widespread jettisoning of the Christian moral compass. Can anyone deny that is the condition in which we exist today within the ecclesial structure and without? Faith in Jesus Christ, True God and true man and His love for us and ours for Him, alone makes faithful conformity to Christian morality possible — and maybe even desirable. Post-conciliar low Christology is double-speak, vacuous, inadequate and a lie. It does not do.

  2. He’s already shown his colors. Everyone knows his “apology” is insincere; his hand was forced by his bishop.

    Regarding this statement: On Thursday, Garrity clarified that he is “totally against legalized abortion.”

    How is that a clarification? Isn’t it a reversal instead of a clarification? He said before that he believed in a woman’s right to choose, which is antithetical to being totally against legalized abortion. How does saying that he is totally against legalized abortion clarify his prior statement that he supports a woman’s right to choose?

    Like I said, his hand was obviously forced into making an insincere apology.

  3. He has apologized and I accept his apology. However, I think he should be removed from public ministry just as Fr. Moloney was.

  4. On the positive side, the Cardinal gave the priest notice of his unacceptable position. He outed himself as a priest unworthy of his vocation since he is for a woman’s right to choose. Choose what? The death of her unborn baby. For shame. .

    • That he “outed” him is apparent. What is also apparent is that he was not removed from ministry but allowed to remain active with a weak and contrived apology.

  5. Juxtapose Garrity’s two statements and clarify for me where the logic is, please.
    This is supposed to end the confusion?

  6. Ethical gymnastics at its best. He didn’t change his views; he lied on his so called apology. He supports legal murder of unborn babies. That I true. He supports former vice-president Biden. That is true. He encouraged others including Catholics to also vote for Former VP Biden encouraging them to support a person who adamantly supports the murder of unborn babies by their parents. That’s true. The rest is just Weaponized ambiguity to cover for himself and his bishop. If you are secular catholic and will not convert then please leave out of respect for those of us who truly believe.

  7. Garrity in his original statement was trying to put lipstick on a pig: If abortion is legal (as Joe Biden clearly prefers), then there is true “freedom of choice” for women who give birth to children. Without it, there would be no “freedom,” ergo (by implication), legalized abortion enables virtue.

  8. What in God’s name does the word “apologize” mean in this case?

    The hierarchy of our Catholic Church continues to lack credibility and makes of itself a laughingstock. The only problem is that the datafile stopped laughing a long, long time ago; they’re voting with their feet and their checkbooks.

  9. Of course, spellchecker reared its ugly head and printed “datafile” instead of “faithful.” But I doubt that I’ll get an apology. Perhaps Cardinal O’Malley will request one from Spellchecker on my behalf.

  10. Why would anyone take this “apology” seriously? Could anyone characterize his statement as a heartfelt faith-filled retraction? This appears to be a situation where both sides of the coin are being played. It is contemptible that a priest would behave this way.
    In two weeks Saint Augustine’s sermon “On Pastors” will hold pride of place in the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours. If any of our priests still observe their sacred obligation to prayerfully recite the Divine Office I suggest they pray Augustine’s teaching very well — but then again he is not considered quite “woke.”
    Maybe Uber could be regarded a second career choice?

  11. I pray that Catholic teachings was the motivation for encouraging garrity to publicly reverse his statement on pro-life for the benefit of the faithful. But the attorney seemed to be focused on tax exempt status. Still I would not choose him as my Shepard.

  12. Poor Msgr. Garrity was “not prepared for the uncharitable responses” he received to his totally illogical and incoherent previous post, and he only added insult to injury in attempting to cover for his confused views on a woman’s right to choose. Our Church is in a very sad state when we can’t even convince our parish priest, who claims to be pro-life, that he cannot in good conscience vote for the pro-death Democrat party.

  13. Day 1 – He’s pro-choice, urges everyone to vote for Sleepy Joe.

    Days 2 & 3 pass, the Cardinal gives him a call.

    Day 4 – He’s suddenly changed his mind, after YEARS of holding this opinion and being none too shy about it.

    Do the math

  14. So the reason the hierarchy objected to his support for abortion is the TAX EXEMPTION STATUS? That was is NOT the Catholic Church.

  15. Are we expecting perfection from our government, presidents, officials and priests? Why don’t we just look at ourselves? If we work on our perfection, our Lord will heal our souls and minds. He Alone is perfect and we only share in His perfection. Let’s stop throwing stones at the sinners instead of holding their hands and bringing them back with love to the house of the Father.

    • I agree generally, but I think the reason for the outrage is that this has been going on for a long long time. We can certainly forgive the man and certainly pray for him. However, I think many people feel that this type of thing is representative of the betrayals laypeople experience from clergy who distort teaching and undermine our right to have clear, truthful teaching and good spiritual fathers.. When clergy distort the teachings, abandon them, undermine them etc, they fail to give us The Truth, Christ. They have a role as a spiritual fathers. They must recognize that…or their spiritual children will cry out. That’s what neglected children do. Fathers must be good fathers, not just administrators, or managers.

  16. “The nature of the seven gifts has been debated by theologians since the mid-second century, but the standard interpretation has been the one that St. Thomas Aquinas worked out in the thirteenth century in his Summa Theologiae:
    • Wisdom is both the knowledge of and judgment about “divine things” and the ability to judge and direct human affairs according to divine truth (I/I.1.6; I/II.69.3; II/II.8.6; II/II.45.1–5).
    • Understanding is penetrating insight into the very heart of things, especially those higher truths that are necessary for our eternal salvation—in effect, the ability to “see” God (I/I.12.5; I/II.69.2; II/II.8.1–3).
    • Counsel allows a man to be directed by God in matters necessary for his salvation (II/II.52.1).
    • Fortitude denotes a firmness of mind in doing good and in avoiding evil, particularly when it is difficult or dangerous to do so, and the confidence to overcome all obstacles, even deadly ones, by virtue of the assurance of everlasting life (I/II.61.3; II/II.123.2; II/II.139.1).
    • Knowledge is the ability to judge correctly about matters of faith and right action, so as to never wander from the straight path of justice (II/II.9.3).
    • Piety is, principally, revering God with filial affection, paying worship and duty to God, paying due duty to all men on account of their relationship to God, and honoring the saints and not contradicting Scripture. The Latin word pietas denotes the reverence that we give to our father and to our country; since God is the Father of all, the worship of God is also called piety (I/II.68.4; II/II.121.1).
    • Fear of God is, in this context, “filial” or chaste fear whereby we revere God and avoid separating ourselves from him—as opposed to “servile” fear, whereby we fear punishment (I/II.67.4; II/II.19.9).”
    This WWII Vet thanks God for his Catholic School Education and for receiving the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit in his Confirmation at age twelve. In our upcoming election, vote for those, who by their actions and behavior, practice these seven gifts. Frederick W. Sarkis, not-for-profit mission on http://www.YesPa.org – Ideal for use during the Corona Virus. Seek no donations. Special request – Please visit the website and easily download the Yes Pa book. When you do, you get an auto reply from me and, at age 94, my battery recharges for this ongoing mission.

  17. Would someone explaine to me why the “Tax Exempt Status” should have any bearing on teaching and proclaiming Gods word. Bishops, priests and laymen use “Tax Exempt Status” as an excuse! Its about time we call them on it. Thirty pieces of silver comes to mind…

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